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LCQ 17: False fire alarms

     Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, in the Legislative Council today (May 16):


     Recently, I have received quite a number of complaints alleging that residents in the vicinity of hotels are often disturbed by false fire alarms going off at the hotels.  Regarding cases of false fire alarms going off at hotels (including hotels in buildings which are originally designed for hotel purposes ("originally-built hotels") and hotels being converted from other types of buildings, e.g. commercial buildings and industrial buildings ("converted hotels")) in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective monthly numbers of false fire alarms went off at hotels in Hong Kong in 2011, broken down by District Council districts (18 districts) in Table 1 of the Question Annex;

(b) of the respective monthly numbers of hotels in Hong Kong at which false fire alarms went off in 2011, broken down by the 18 districts in Table 2 of the Question Annex;

(c) of the names of the hotels at which the highest number of false fire alarms went off within a month in 2011, as well as the major reasons for such false fire alarms, and list the information by "originally-built hotels", "converted hotels" and 18 districts; and

(d) whether the authorities have any pragmatic measure to effectively improve the situation of false fire alarms going off at hotels; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities have any system to monitor false fire alarm cases in all kinds of hotels in Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) and (b) According to the records of the Fire Services Department (FSD), there were 23 889 calls involving false fire alarms in 2011, and the monthly figures are at Reply Annex.  FSD does not maintain separate statistics on false fire alarms involving hotels or whether those hotels were built for such use originally, etc.

(c) As mentioned above, FSD does not maintain separate statistics as required.  Nevertheless, based on FSD's experience, the causes of false fire alarms mostly involve human factors such as smoke detectors being actuated by smoking of cigarettes.  Other causes include malfunction of the fire alarm system or actuation of smoke detector by high humidity, etc.

(d) The Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) under the Home Affairs Department is responsible for the issue of licences and related enforcement work of guesthouses in accordance with the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance (Cap. 349).  The OLA advises that licensed hotels are required to comply with a number of licensing conditions including the appointment of a registered fire service installation and equipment (FSI) contractor to conduct annual inspection of the FSIs inside their premises, such as fire alarms, to ensure their proper operations.  If the OLA finds any FSI defective or that the concerned hotel does not carry out annual inspection according to the requirement, it will take appropriate follow up action (such as issue warning, etc).  The OLA also conducts inspections on hotels from time to time, including the checking of the proper functioning of the FSIs.  Moreover, the OLA also issues letters to hotels from time to time to remind them that they should properly maintain their FSIs and ensure their staff are familiar with the operation of the FSIs.

     Apart from the licensing conditions of guesthouses, the Fire Service (Installations and Equipment) Regulations (Cap. 95B) also contain a similar provision which requires the owners of FSI to be responsible for their effective operation.  In addition, after FSD has ascertained that a call is a false fire alarm, it will ask the responsible person at the concerned premise to identify the cause of the false fire alarm and to arrange FSI contractor to inspect and rectify the problem as soon as possible.

Ends/Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:16


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